SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia â South America was on the brink of war yesterday as Venezuela and Ecuador amassed troops on the Colombian border in response to the killing of a Marxist rebel leader. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to join the rebels in a war to overthrow hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key ally of the United States, deploying tanks, fighter jets and thousands of troops along the Colombian border. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa also ordered troops to the border, expelled Colombia's ambassador and recalled its ambassador to Bogota, but left its embassy open. Venezuela closed its embassy in Colombia and ordered all diplomats home. A weekend battle sparked the mobilization, in which Colombian forces killed a top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in a camp in Ecuador. "The obsessive conduct of those who prize the military option sharpens the armed conflict with grave possible consequences" read a statement from Venezuela's Foreign Ministry after the weekend killing of FARC's second in command, Raul Reyes. On his weekly Sunday talk show "Hello President," Mr. Chavez accused Colombia of "invading" Ecuador, and compared the action to Israeli attacks against Palestinians. "The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," Mr. Chavez said. He called Colombia a "terrorist" state and its president, Mr. Uribe, a criminal; "Dracula's fangs are covered in blood." Mr. Correa said Colombia deliberately carried out the strike beyond its borders. "There is no justification," he said last night, snubbing an earlier announcement from Colombia that it would apologize for the incursion.